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How to Navigate a Breakup

by Lauri Revilla

Breakups are one of the most traumatic and distressful life events that humans can experience. Many people report actual physical pain or illness when going through a split. Research supports these claims and shows that the areas of the brain responsible for physical pain are activated during a breakup. Navigating the end of relationship can be a difficult and lengthy process. With time and proper support, this can be a positive experience that leads to personal growth and new opportunities.

Give Yourself Time

One of the most important factors in recovering from a breakup is time. Separation from a partner is a grieving process and you are likely to experience the different stages of grief, such as denial, despair, anger, self-blame, jealousy, confusion and relief. In a study published in the May 2010 issue of "Journal of Neurophysiology," researchers at the Einstein College of Medicine found that the intensity of feelings experienced during a breakup are similar to those caused by addiction and physical pain. Be self-compassionate and accept that the feelings you are experiencing are normal. Allow yourself to feel the pain and use crying as a release.

Avoid the Triggers

Moving on after a relationship requires putting it behind you. Most people will experience the urge or "craving" to be around their ex after the breakup, but this will only create setbacks in the healing process. Take steps to eliminate or avoid anything that will trigger memories of your relationship, such as returning belongings, deleting or hiding your ex on social networking sites and putting away pictures of you together.

Find Distractions

Keeping busy will keep your mind away from the obsessive thinking that often develops after a breakup. Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as shopping, spending time outdoors and hanging out with friends. It is also an excellent time to work on your personal growth and self-esteem. A breakup often leaves a person with decreased self-value and feelings of worthlessness. You can try exercising, enrolling in a course, learning to cook gourmet meals or trying out a completely new look. Not only will you find yourself spending less time thinking about your ex, but you will also create a new and better you.

Let Others Support You

Although it might be tempting to shut yourself away from the outside world, social support is essential for healing after a breakup. Friends and family can lend a listening ear and provide positive words of encouragement during this time. Spending time and sharing a good laugh with loved ones is an excellent distraction. Most of them have probably gone through a similar loss and know what you are experiencing. There are also support groups and online forums that you can join where you can interact with people who are going through a similar experience.

Reframe Your Thinking

The memories of the relationship that most often replay in your mind are those of romantic, endearing and fun moments together. How often do you find yourself reminiscing about the big arguments or the things that you sacrificed for your partner? Remember, there is a reason why your relationship did not work. A huge part of healing is realizing that you are a much better person after this separation. Focus on the positive outcomes of your breakup and take it as an opportunity for growth and change in your life.

About the Author

Lauri Revilla has been writing articles on mental health, wellness, relationships and lifestyle for more than six years. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, from Mexico in 2006. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University.

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